When your life is altered by something that you’d had no intention of allowing to happen, your routine (such as it is) can become a bit useless. The timing of this new push into historic trauma using poetry as the delivery system is, in a certain light, less than optimal. However, ignoring it has the potential to make my personal life a lot more difficult than it needs to be in a period where that is absolutely NOT what needs to happen. As a result? Everything is being used as a potential learning experience. That means today we are writing about history.
Yesterday, I engaged with the writer of a feature detailing the ‘best’ raiding content [*] in World of Warcraft. As the game is constantly changing and evolving, deciding the best of anything at distance can seem a bit of a pointless exercise. After all, looking at something that was great back in 2005 and then attempting to compare it to something that’s been created in 2023, when so much has altered in terms of performance, graphical improvement and simple game system overhauls… how can you possibly do anything justice without factoring in the context?
When the makers of World of Warcraft decided to reboot and relaunch the original ‘Classic’ game a few years ago, they were very much aware of why this mattered, and how potentially significant that revamp would be. It wasn’t necessarily about attracting new players, either: the ‘original’ template remains ‘free’ to all existing purchasers of the current game. Their plan appeared simple: reproduce an experience of the original 2004 release and encourage players to buy back into a world many of them had never experienced, because they were more concerned about getting to the most recent Expansion instead to play with their friends.
Except, by doing so, a very significant portion of the game’s own evolutionary path was summarily erased.
There’s been a lot of thought, as I write about the 2005 to 2009 period, over reactivating my old account and going back into Classic: except, of course, it’s not the same game. However much I may be told this is an authentic experience, that’s not true, and it never will be. I am being sold that most seductive of marketing dummies, in the hope that I’ll be retained as a player and that all-important monthly sub will find its way back into the company’s coffers. Not going back is a good thing. There are many good reasons, as will become clear as the poems in this project make it out of my brain and onto the page.
Classic has been reduced to a manageable footnote by the game’s designers, many of which found their jobs in the company playing that iteration. Our experiences were vastly different, and the history I bring to the table will be a very long way from that which is fondly remembered by them. Does that make my moments any less valuable? Of course, it doesn’t, but because of how they happened and the consequences of them in relation to the game, that history is again sublimated into something else. It seems incredibly important for my experiences, as a result, to be presented as history and context with the proper backdrop to frame it.
Poets are supposed to let readers fathom out what’s going on in their work, at least 90 percent of the time. There are those such as Jonathan Davidson who espouse a more didactic approach to the process, that there should be an explanation when context is not easily presentable, or the subject is particularly niche. This has been the biggest single quandary in creating a timeline that marries game events to real life events. Yesterday was the first day when I felt there’d been a solid, cohesive process in drawing a walkable path from then to now.
What matters most of all right now however isn’t what happens with the work, it is the creating of it. However, as this happens, I find myself increasingly needing to explain the processes as I go: not just to myself, but as a means of making sure the chronology remains both correct and accessible, so I am going to start blogging about Warcraft again. This was how I saved my soul back in 2009. To go back to it felt counterintuitive for a while but, at my heart, I am a storyteller. I never thought my own narratives would have any relevance.
It transpires this is a very long way from the current truth these poems present me with.
[*] Raiding content is where 10-40 people (depending on expansion) all play together in an attempt to down ‘boss encounters’ where the computer adversaries are considerably more powerful than normal.
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